Beaver County is full of trails and parks that bicycle enthusiasts use on a regular basis and we also have a lot of residents who ride their bicycles to work or for running errands around town. Bicycling is great for the environment, it saves on gasoline costs, and it is good exercise, but bicycling has its downsides, most notably, bicycle accident injuries. Of the 1,141 Pennsylvania bicycle accidents in 2017, there were 1,127 injuries and 21 fatalities. Bicycling can be very dangerous, especially when a motor vehicle is on the other end of the collision.
Pennsylvania bicycle laws
Pennsylvania bicycle laws provide that, in general, bicycles on the road should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities as other motor vehicles and if they violate any traffic laws and an accident results, the bicyclist will be found at fault. Bicycles should ride in the farthest right lane (or on the shoulder at the bicyclist’s preference) unless they are preparing to make a left-hand turn, are avoiding a road obstruction, or are passing a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles are to keep a four-foot buffer between the vehicle and a bicycle that they are passing and in an effort to prevent ‘dooring’ accidents, motor vehicle occupants should not open a door unless it is safe to do so and bicycles should keep a four-foot distance when passing a parked car.
Pennsylvania DOT safety recommendations
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation analyzes bicycle accident occurrences and circumstances and they compile accident statistics annually. Based on their analysis and research, they have provided safety tips for Pennsylvania bicyclists in an effort to minimize bicycle accidents and injuries. See some of those safety tips are listed below:
- Wear a helmet
- Obey traffic laws
- Follow traffic signs and signals
- Do not ride against the flow of traffic
- Be predictable for drivers by riding in a straight line and using hand signals to indicate that you are turning
- Be visible with reflectors, lights, and bright clothing
- Keep your bicycle well maintained
- Take care of yourself by staying hydrated and carrying a cell phone with you for emergencies
Bicycle accident injuries can range from bumps and bruises to extremely severe and fatal. Motor vehicles should exercise extreme caution when bicyclists are present and both bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers should follow the Pennsylvania rules of the road at all times. This would greatly reduce the number of bicycle accidents and resulting injuries, which sometimes include broken and shattered bones, traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, road rash, and infections.